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23 February 2017 | Hoteles

Borrowed tourism or leading destination?

Spain has been breaking records year after year in relation to the number of visitors who arrive to the country in search of enjoying its benefits: sun and beach, gastronomy, landscapes, sports, golf, and, why not to say, looking for quality hotel accommodation in most cases.

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During the worst years of the economic crisis, those establishments which were more dependent on domestic demand where the ones that suffered the consequences to a greater extent, whereas certain tourist areas or cities with a better international position, obtained better returns from its less dependence on domestic tourism and internal economy. Once again, tourism industry has demonstrated its resilience and, as an example, it is worth to appoint that the contribution of the tourism sector to GDP forecasted for 2016 was 16.5%, which means an increase of 0,5% from the previous year.

Total number of tourists who visited Spain in 2016 was of 75.3M; nevertheless, do we know what percentages of these millions of tourists who visit us are "borrowed"? It seems obvious that the geopolitical circumstances in some countries of the Mediterranean have discouraged many visitors to visit countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey or Greece. Some of them, such as Egypt or Greece, were consolidated destinations already and had governments which had been betting for the improvement of their infrastructures for years. Others, like Turkey or Tunisia, appeared a few years ago as emerging destinations ready to exert a powerful competition against Spain. In the case of Greece, the recovery of this destination seems to be already under way.

The fact is that, when these Mediterranean countries had the opportunity to take advantage of the weakness of a European Union affected by the crisis, they were immersed in conflicts that, unfortunately, almost erased them from the map as desirable destinations due to the insecurity in which they were immersed. However, we all hope that at some point they will regain the path of stability and growth and then, which countries will international travellers choose? Which Mediterranean destinations will be the most demanded and competitive? This and other issues on Mediterranean tourism will be discussed at the "Southern Europe & Mediterranean Markets" session on 7th March during the International Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF) which takes place annually in Berlin.

The Spanish hotel industry should take advantage of the (sad) instability of other countries to carry out the pending hotel reforms, which could not be financed during the crisis, now that funding availability has been largely recovered. Spain should not lose its current advantageous competitive position by an improvement of the hotel infrastructure complemented with a clear strategy focused on the target visitors that Spain wishes to attract, thus avoiding low quality tourism. 

From Christie & Co we believe that the tourist sector in Spain must be prepared for not to live from borrowed tourism and we believe that the best way to do this is to never cease in the effort to keep improving day by day. There are those who are contrary to Spain being considered "the Florida of Europe" and taking into account that Spain will not lose its globally recognized benefits (sun, beach, landscape, gastronomy, professionalism of the sector and growing quality of its hotel offer), the goal should be to be the best by far.
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